Saturday, December 22, 2012

Call him 'He Who Talks About Self'




Someone needs to tell Barack Obama—it must get particularly confusing this time of year—that his own birth is not Year One, the date around which all other events are understood. His much-noted, self-referential tic was on cringe-worthy display Friday when the president gave his eulogy for the late Sen. Daniel Inouye, who served in Congress for half a century representing Obama’s birth state of Hawaii.
Inouye was a Japanese-American war hero (he lost an arm in World War II, destroying his dream of becoming a surgeon), and as a senator he served on the Watergate committee, helped rewrite our intelligence charter after scandals, and was chairman of the Senate committee that investigated the Iran-Contra affair. It’s the kind of material any eulogist could use to give a moving sense of the man and his accomplishment. But President Barack Obama’s remarks at Inouye’s funeral service were a bizarre twirl around his own personal Kodak carousel.
Obama likes to see events through the lens of his own life’s chronology. Thus we learn that Inouye was elected to the Senate when Obama was 2 years old. Now you could make this relevant by describing how Inouye worked to send federal dollars (you don’t have to call it “pork” at a funeral) to transform Hawaii’s roads and schools, for example, so that the Hawaii Obama grew up in had the kind of facilities people on the mainland had long taken for granted. But no, we simply learn that Inouye was Obama’s senator until he left the state to go to college—something apparently more momentous than anything Inouye did during his decades in office.



In Iraq, it's seasonal tidings.  Yes, that time of the year when Nouri uncorks The Crazy.  How bad is it?  So bad that rumors attach War Criminal Henry Kissinger's name to the current crisis.   Or, with a take from a different angle,  conservative Max Boot (Commentary) proclaims, "Ho hum, another holiday season, another power grab by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki."  AFP says the new crisis "threatens to reignite a long-running feud between the secular, Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc" and Nouri and his State of Law political slate.  What the heck are we talking about?  Look at this Reuters photo (individual photographer is not credited by the news agency or we'd note him or her by name) of the thousands who turned out to protest in Falluja today demanding Nouri al-Maliki resign as prime minister.

After morning prayers, Kitabat reports, protesters gathered in Falluja to protest the arrests and Nouri al-Maliki.  They chanted down with Nouri's brutality and, in a move that won't change their minds, found themselves descended upon by Nouri's forces who violently ended the protest.  Before that, Al Mada reports, they were chanting that terrorism and Nouri are two sides of the same coin.  Kitabat also reports that demonstrations also took place in Tikrit, Samarra, Ramdia and just outside Falluja with persons from various tribes choosing to block the road connecting Anbar Province (Falluja is the capitol of Anbar) with Baghdad.  Across Iraq, there were calls for Nouri to release the bodyguards of Minister of Finance Rafie al-Issawi.  Alsumaria notes demonstrators in Samarra accused Nouri of attempting to start a sectarian war.

So what happened yesterday?  Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reports:

Iraq's Finance Minister Rafei al-Essawi said Thursday that "a militia force" raided his house, headquarters and ministry in Baghdad and kidnapped 150 people, and he holds the nation's prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, responsible for their safety.
 Members of the al-Essawi's staff and guards were among those kidnapped from the ministry Thursday, the finance minister said. He also said that his computers and documents were searched at his house and headquarters. He said the head of security was arrested Wednesday at a Baghdad checkpoint for unknown reasons and that now the compound has no security.
Kitabat explains that these raids took place in the Green Zone, were carried out by the Iraqi military and that Nouri, yesterday evening, was insisting he knew nothing about them.    In another report, Tawfeeq quotes al-Essawi stating, "My message to the prime minister: You are a man who does not respect partnership at all, a man who does not respect the law and the constitution, and I personally hold you fully responsible for the safety of the kidnapped people." BBC News adds, "Rafie al-Issawi, a prominent member of the al-Iraqiyya political bloc, said about 150 of his bodyguards and staff members had been arrested on Thursday."  Nine in some reports, the Ministry of the Interior states 10.  So al-Essawi's just a liar?
No.  What appears to have happened is what Nouri practices, it's disgusting and it's illegal and the White House looks the other way every damn time.
What appears to have happened was that about 150 people were kidnapped.  Of those 150, 10 or so were arrested on charges of 'terrorism.'  And the rest?
They're being held.  They're being 'questioned' which, in Nouri's Iraq, means they're being tortured.  At least one of Tareq al-Hashemi's bodyguards was tortured to death -- beaten so badly he had kidney failure.  Two women who were part of Tareq's office staff were held for weeks, kidnapped and held for weeks, to get them to 'confess.'  Nouri did the same thing in October when he 'fired' (he didn't have that power) Sinan al-Shabibi as Govenor of the Central Bank of Iraq.  Suddenly, al-Shabibi's staff was rounded up and 'detained.'
We now have to drop back to the March 22nd snapshot:
Since December, those working for Tareq al-Hashemi have been rounded up by Nouri's forces.  At the end of January, Amnesty International was calling for the Baghdad government "to reveal the whereabouts of two women arrested earlier this month, apparently for their connection to the country's vice-president.  Rasha Nameer Jaafer al-Hussain and Bassima Saleem Kiryakos were arrested by security forces at their homes on 1 January.  Both women work in the media team of Iraqi Vice-President Tareq al-Hashemi, who is wanted by the Iraqi authorities on terrorism-related charges."  Yesterday, al-Hashemi noted that his bodyguard had died and stated that it appeared he had died as a result of torture.
 Alsumaria notes Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi is calling for the international community to call out the death of his bodyguard, Amer Sarbut Zeidan al-Batawi, who died after being imprisoned for three months. al-Hashemi has stated the man was tortured to death. The photo Alsumaria runs of the man's legs (only the man's legs) appear to indicate he was tortured, welts and bruises and scars.  They also report that the Baghdad Operations Command issued a statement today insisting that they had not tortured al-Batawi and that he died of chronic renal.  They also insist that he was taken to the hospital for medical treamtent on March 7th and died March 15th. Renal failure would be kidney failure.  And that's supposed to prove it wasn't torture?
If you work for an outlet that just spits out what you are told and didn't actually learn a profession, yes.  Anyone with half a brain, however, apparently that's half more than the average journalist possess today knows to go to science.  The Oxford Journal is scientific. This is from the Abstract for GH Malik, AR Reshi, MS Najar, A Ahmad and T Masood's "Further observations on acute renal failure following physical torture" from 1994:
Thirty-four males aged 16–40 (mean 25) years in the period from August 1991 to February 1993 presented in acute renal failure (ARF), 3–14 (mean 5) days after they had been apprehended and allegedly tortured in Police interrogation centres in Kashmir. All were beaten involving muscles of the body, in addition 13 were beaten on soles, 11 were trampled over and 10 had received repeated electric shocks.
Out of that group? 29 did live. Five died.  I don't think the Baghdad Command Operations created any space between them and the charge with their announcement of renal failure as the cause of death.  But, hey, I went to college and studied real topics -- like the law and political science and sociology and philosophy -- and got real degrees not glorified versions of a general studies degree with the word "journalism" slapped on it.  So what do I know?
We have to note that -- all of that -- because one of the worst outlets on Iraq decided to 'report' today and they didn't get one damn fact right.  We'll get back to it. 
Now if Bully Boy Bush were in office currently, I would honestly cut him some slack here because he can't call out Nouri for rounding up innocent people, not after he ordered US troops to pick up the wives and mothers of various supposed criminals, not after he ordered US troops to 'talk tough' to these women, not after he ordered US troops to let them think they would be raped and tortured if they did not talk.  (As far as is known, no woman was raped or tortured by US troops to give up information on a family member.  But many Iraqi women were threatened and bullied into believing that would happen.  There is a word for that: "Terrorism.")  So if Bully Boy Bush were still occupying the White House, I'd understand why he couldn't call out actions so similar to his own.  But President Barack Obama is a different person -- one who supposedly hasn't decided that the US government should demonstrate less scruples than the mafia -- so I'm having a real hard time understanding why the current White House can't call out these clear violations of the law and of human rights.
We all need to grasp and acknowledge what's happening.  AFP's quoting Abdelsattar Bayraqdar ("Higher Judicial Council spokesman") stating that the commander of the bodyguards has "confessed" -- these are forced confessions.  And it's past time that Nouri's screwed up 'justice' system in Baghdad was called out.  The judiciary does not issue statements on guilt before any trial.  They did that with Tareq al-Hashemi as well (with multiple judges holding that press conference and one 'objective' judge telling reporters present that Tareq had tried to kill him).  This is a joke but it's a sad one because Iraqis have to live with this.  It's yet another failure of the US government's war on Iraq.
As a result of these actions, Al Mada reports, Sahwa leader Ahmed Abu Risha has called for Nouri to apologize (and do so within 24 hours) and to release the hostages.  He floated the notion that Nouri's refusal could relate in the international highway that links Iraq to Jordan being cut off.  Al Mada also notes that a member of the Sadr bloc spoke to the media to note that this is yet another political crisis, yet another one created by Nouri in his six years in office, that the way this was carried out makes people lose trust/faith in the government, that this seems to be an echo of the divisions Nouri started last year with the targeting of Tareq al-Hashemi, that the operation was unobjective and unprofessional and that the lack of respect shown to Minister al-Issawi is a worry and threat to all the political blocs.   The article notes that Iraqiya repeated their assertion from a few weeks back that Nouri creates these crises to distract from his failure as head of state.  That's not all Iraqiya is doing.  The Iraq Times reports that they have formed two delegations.  The one headed by Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi will go to Erbil and discuss this latest crisis with various Kurdish officials including KRG President Massoud Barzani.  A second delegation (the head of which is not noted but is most likely Saleh al-Mutlaq) will remain in Baghdad and meet with cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr and with the head of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq Ammar al-Hakim. 
Al Arabiya reports he held a press conference today with Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi and Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq standing by his side as al-Issawi declared, "I call on the prime minister to resign, because he did not behave like a man of state."

Rafei al-Essawi is a Sunni.  He is also a member of Iraqiya, the political slate that came in first in the March 2010 parliamentary elections.  Nouri's State of Law came in second.  Per the Constitution, Iraiqya should have had first crack at forming a government and one of their members named prime minister-designate.  However, Barack Obama decided -- the will of the Iraqi voters, democracy and the Iraqi Constitution be damned -- he wanted Nouri to have a second term instead.   From John Barry's "'The Engame' Is A Well Researched, Highly Critical Look at U.S. Policy in Iraq" (Daily Beast):

Washington has little political and no military influence over these developments [in Iraq]. As Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor charge in their ambitious new history of the Iraq war, The Endgame, Obama's administration sacrificed political influence by failing in 2010 to insist that the results of Iraq's first proper election be honored: "When the Obama administration acquiesced in the questionable judicial opinion that prevented Ayad Allawi's bloc, after it had won the most seats in 2010, from the first attempt at forming a new government, it undermined the prospects, however slim, for a compromise that might have led to a genuinely inclusive and cross-sectarian government."
In Iraqi eyes, it's actually even worse than that as one report maintains that Nouri was in conversations with former US Secretary of State and noted War Criminal Henry Kissinger.  That may not be an accurate rumor.  Whether it's true or not doesn't matter.  The fact that it's being passed around goes to the distrust Iraqis now have with the US government and, if it's not true, the selection of Kissinger is especially meant to offend.

RECOMMENDED: "Iraq snapshot"
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"First Lady provides an update on President Talaban..."
"Brad Sherman"
"Howard Berman's fuzzy figures (Ava)"
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"Holiday thoughts"
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"Waste at the State Dept. is okay (Wally)"
"Gary Ackerman, Embarrassing Ass"
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"The naive Jonathan Cook"
"F**k you, Bill Van Auken"
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"Tapper goes to CNN, Roeper hugs racism, and more"
"Monkey Business"
"Full On Federline"
"Heads up"
"Fringe 'Black Blotter'"
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"Tapping and slapping"

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